Sparta was one of the essential city-states during the Archaic and Classical periods in Greece. It was known for its military power and well-organized society. Legend says that all of the existing Spartan laws were established by king Lycurgus. The spartan political system included elements of the monarchy(diarchy), oligarchy, and democracy.


One of the basic classes of the Lacedaemonian society was known as Spartiates. It included all male citizens, who had met two requirements. The first was to complete a military service from age 7 to age 30, which was named as Agoge. Secondly, they had to be a part of the syssitia (communal mess). The problem was that there were fifteen members in the syssition and to allow someone new to join, all of them needed to vote for this person unanimously. Therefore, the number of spartiates relative to the total population of Sparta was negligible (about the ninth of the total population)

Spartiates, along with the Assembly and the Gerousia, was an example of the Democracy in Spartan society. The Assembly was a council in which all male Spartiates over the age of 30 voice voted on different proposals. It was responsible for the policy at Sparta and was influenced by the kings, the ephors, and the Gerousia.

The Gerousia was an executive part of the Assembly, which had 30 members, including two kings and 28 men over the age of 60. They were elected by the Assembly using the voice vote. They had a significant political influence because they presided over Assembly meetings and set their agenda.

The college of five Ephors, which was also a significant part of the Spartan government, is an example of the oligarchy. The 5 Ephors had an enormous amount of power and were chosen by the Assembly for one year. Historical records mention that Ephors could punish the kings on occasion. Also, they could recall or put kings on the campaign.

Last but not least, two kings were the leading political figures in the Spartan government, which was a clear example of a diarchy. The two kings were from the hereditary royal families. While one of them led military campaigns abroad, another one was present in Sparta. Kings were not the leading political power in Sparta because they were mainly in charge of military campaigns and being the chief religious’ figures in Sparta.

Moreover, it is believed that the Spartan political system included the elements of Tyranny and Theocracy. Secret police known as Kryptia were in charge of terrorizing and looking after helots(slaves), and sometimes the state declared war against slaves to make their murders legal. As for the Theocracy, religion was one of the main elements in the lives and political decisions in Spartan society. One of the bright examples of the effect of the religion on the political choices was shown during the Battle of Marathon when Spartan could not assist Athenians because of the religious festival.

Spartan Constitution chart.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org